10 key steps for buying a printing press

Buying a printing press to upgrade your capacity and benefit from all – the latest technologies can be a tough decision to make. Here are some factors to mull over before you hammer out a deal.

01 May 2013 | By Rushikesh Aravkar


* The new machine uses less labour owing to higher automation

** 24 working days in a month for pre-owned machine considering one day of breakdown

Disclaimer: This working is a rough estimate and may not contain certain factors like depreciation, etc. It's best you consult your financial advisor on this one.

Firstly, one must realise that printing machines are meant to run 24/7 and hence ensure that you exploit your existing capacity before adding to it. Have you thought of outsourcing or buying over someone else’s capacity?

Once you are sure that you require a new press, the next thing you must check for is space; not just for the machine and its accessories but for the logistics of material.

Today’s kit can churn out paper at huge speeds, so a fair amount of space must be allotted for work-in-progress material.

Finally, after having decided to make the investment, availability of electricity and pre- and post-press equipment to support this new machine must be duly considered to avoid any bottleneck. If the support machines are not part of this purchase, but within the scheme of things, be sure that you factor it into your short or medium term budget.

Now that you have confirmed that there is a requirement for the machine – two really important questions arise. One, which brand to trust? And second, whether to invest in a pre-owned machine or a brand new machine?

Let us understand how to decide on the brand; I would base the decision on following parameters:

Price: Price is a crucial factor; evaluate all the available options and when comparing prices compare an apple to apple and then try to extract the best price from the seller.

Service back-up: An investment in a brand with well-established service network and skilled engineers, will bear fruits in the long term. Ensure that the manufacturer has a strong and assured service back-up in India; and in your state, your city, your zilla. Insist on examining the track record of a seller in terms of service support through your trusted sources and not the ones provided by the seller.

Dependence on manufacturer: The level of dependence on the manufacturer for service support should be scrutinised. Take care that after making the investment you are not completely dependent on the manufacturer for service support. Try to remain flexible in terms of support.

Machine representative: Determine whether the seller is a dealer or a manufacturer. Making the purchase from a manufacturer is always beneficial.

Feedback: Follow-up with existing users about performance of the machine. Get feedback from two-three users, and if possible, meet the operators of the press to grasp their experience with running of the machine.

Unique feature: All the available options will necessarily have the basic functionalities required for a press, however, if there is any unique feature in the machine which is acknowledged by the competition too, then it would figure in your bottom line.

Compatibility: In order to enjoy a flawless performance from the new investment, the machine must integrate smoothly with your existing pre-press and post-press set-up. Check for the compatibility of the press with your CTP system, pre-press workflow and other equipment.

Versatility of press: Versatility of a press is tantamount with long-term viability.  Ensure that your press can handle variety of substrates and is future-ready.

Residual value: Presses with good residual or re-sale value will prove to be economically advantageous and can be comfortably sold-off in future.

Degree of automation: The degree of automation offered by a press is an important factor to be noted considering that ill-trained operators can overkill the press.

Now the tough question: Whether to invest in a pre-owned machine or a brand new machine? Perform a cost benefit analysis (refer to table on the previous page). Remember to keep in mind the fact that the figures provided by the manufacturer will most likely be based on ideal world situations and overseas labour costs.


Finally, go with your gut. This is the equipment you will be working with for the next 10-15 years and you must be happy buying it.


Brand new machine

A)     Get the best possible price.

B)     Bundle in an extended warranty and discount on spares and service visits once the warranty

         has expired.

C)     Ensure that you ask for a factory acceptance test protocol (FATP).

D)     Ensure that you or your engineer is present for the factory acceptance test at their site prior 

         to dispatch.


Pre-owned machines

A)     Do they perform to the maximum in terms of both speed and substrate; if possible print your

         actual jobs on actual substrate on the press to confirm.

B)     Do perform a print contrast test on each unit.

C)     Check for the commercial acceptability of the register for the kind of jobs you do or intend to


D)     Check for dot gain and slur.

E)     Enlist all the discrepancies and ask the seller to rectify and provide another trial; don’t bargain

        the price and return with the faulty machine thinking that you will solve the issues in your

        factory. Bear in mind, we are in the business of printing and not refurbishing.


No compromise points

Once, you hammer out a deal; insist on following things for hassle free performance of the machine.

A)     Foundation – Lay the foundation as per manufacturer specifications and get it verified it by a

         certified structural expert.

B)     Clean power - do what it takes: Install stabilisers, UPS, etc. Refer to other users in your

         locality as each location has its own unique power issues.

C)     Maintenance-free chemical earthing.

D)     HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) - Exhausting is as important as cooling.

E)     Never compromise on the installation process - let the manufacturer install the machine, don’t

         cut corners here.

F)     Operators - invest in good people, a machine is only as good as its operator.

Finally, after you have successfully installed the machine do ask the manufacturer to schedule a regular application and maintenance training for your operators.


Point of view


Manufacturer superiority

In equipment purchase with high denomination values such as printing equipment, the most important factor is the reliability and security of the deal. And here lies the key differentiation between a manufacturer and a dealer. This is not to say that every dealer is unreliable, however, comparing by the law of averages, the manufacturer offers reliability and transparency in every deal as compared to dealers. The manufacturer has first-hand access to the equipment, the technology and the spare supply as compared to a dealer who depends on the original manufacturer. Therefore, the fastest and reliable way is to approach the manufacturer directly.

Training centres

Manufacturers understand the importance of proper and detailed training for the customers and their production staff. This motivated Manroland to start dedicated on-site training and classroom training sessions for our customers. We offer week-long  training sessions that are organised at the customer’s site and on their press, as we believe practical hands-on training is the most effective training method for press operators. These training sessions are complimentary for all buyers of new as well as pre-owned presses of Manroland.

Flexibility in pricing

The pricing of new machinery depend on the following factors: level of automation, efficiency of the press, accessories defined by a customer, the speed of the press and any special features requested by the customer for their special applications.

Paperwork, precaution in used kit buy

While investing in pre-owned equipment, a buyer should insist on authentic documentation highlighting the technical specification of the press, age proof of the press, the accessories and ideally, a press inspection and evaluation report from the manufacturer which serves as a crucial authentication of the actual valuation of the press. Buyers must be careful about the prices mentioned in the sales deed, and ensure that the price offer includes the necessary freight costs and adequate insurance for the press during transit.

It is highly recommended to thoroughly review the press under the supervision of trained personnel before completing the sale. We also suggest that the dismantling of the press is done by trained engineers in the presence of the buyer, to ensure that the package is comprehensive and complete and minimum installation time.

Technical factors you present

We highlight the higher productivity, low maintenance and running costs on Manroland equipment. These are important factors for customers as they offer significant cost savings in the medium to a long term period.

In addition, Manroland offers several automations as standard equipment features including 3/4th automated plate loading, zero consumables in the ink duct and transfer elements, automated feeder settings and ink flow regulation features. These excellent productivity enhancing features are offered at no additional costs to the customers.

Hurdles faced by the buyer

The decision about purchase of new machinery depends on several factors such as funding; choosing the right equipment, service support, etc. 

Among these, the availability of funds is one of the most critical and demanding factors, especially for small and medium-sized buyers in India. Most first-time buyers are intimidated by the paperwork and adequate financial proof or collaterals necessary to avail funding from lenders and banks alike.

(By Natasha Tandon, head of marketing and strategy for Manroland India)


Heidelberg India

Manufacturer superiority

A dealers’ sales objective is generally short-term, seeking quick profit, whereas a direct manufacturers’ sales aims are long-term and focus more on fostering relationships while providing relevant and lasting solutions. A dealer has the liberty to manipulate transactions and offerings, whereas a direct manufacturer can neither entertain nor indulge in manipulation of any sort, as everything is accounted in black and white.

What should the buyer look for?

To each his own! At the end of the day, a printer is at the mercy of a certain amount of luck while buying a pre-owned press, which is not the case with buying a new press. Besides the ten points, among few others, it depends on what kind of customer you are going to cater to and what level of precision and consistency you are looking for. There are three segments – low, medium and high.

If you want to be in the low-end segment, then pre-owned equipment may work well. For everything else, including precision, consistency, fewer wastage, high OEE and better profit margins, new press is the only choice. One can also be certain of a ROI in maximum three years with a minimum down time.

Training centres

Heidelberg is the only manufacturer who focuses on training and education aspect, as well. Heidelberg’s’ Print Media Academy (PMA) in Chennai is a standing testimony to the same.

Finance offers

Finance is certainly offered and is done so via our partners who are nearly at par with international standards. However, hedging costs can change the scenario.

Flexibility in pricing

Flexibility depends on how much you want to put in and how much you want to get out of the press at the end of the day. 

Paperwork, precaution in used kit buy

We would strongly recommend buying pre-owned equipment directly from the manufacturer. Furthermore, send in-house teams for inspection.

Technical factors you present

To outline - we run through the press in detail explaining every feature, right from feeder to delivery, define and prove stability and consistency, ROI, cost per sheet, lesser wastage benefits, lesser make ready and change over times benefits and so on. Our 101 check points guarantee the claimed speed, quality and consistency, if the machine is refurbished and bought from us, and we even guide them to get certified as per ISO: 12647-2.

(By Madhukar Choudhary, manager – customer finance, Heidelberg India; Peter Rego, general manager, equipment sales, Heidelberg India; and Dr RajendraKumar Anayath, head, PMA India, Heidelberg India)


Insight Communications

Local partner helps

Most of the manufacturers are the best in their core area of producing high-end equipment, however, working with local partners is always a better choice as there are localised issues, which need specific attention. This is because the local partner is more aware of the local situation and cost of operations.

The end user prices are very stiff, and the locals do understand this better. Manufacturers also seem to get myopic with geographic and customer behavior, although this may not apply to all.

Training centres

It is important to have training centres in India but there has to be some efforts from the government to promote print education. As of today, almost 95% of the machines imported into India are under EPCG (at 0% import duty). But if, we as a supplier import a machine for education purposes, we end up paying the duty plus clearing, which is nearly 26 to 29% of the machine cost. Further, if we decide to sell the machine, the entire duty paid is lost. This is a major deterrent. The Heidelberg Print Media Academy though has been an impressive initiative.

Today, when most of the manufacturers globally are struggling to keep afloat, the training centres are the first to get a hit.

Flexibility in pricing

In pricing of a press, there is something known as the base price of the machine and then there are optional features which can cause a difference of 5 to 7% in case of configurations.

Paperwork, precaution in used kit buy

Most customers work on the adjectives used by per-owned machine dealers like beautiful machine, a wow buy, fully loaded machine etc, but they have no clue what they are buying and what are the options. It can be a nightmare sometimes.

It is recommended to take assistance of local distributor or the manufacturers instead of relying on free-lancers as they may not be aware of what is going in for the customer. After all it’s the printers hard-earned money.

Technical factors you present

We tell the customers all the facts of the products and their limitations as well. We do provide onsite training to our customers. Once they achieve a level of know- how, and expresses interest in advanced training, then they are advised to visit the Komori Graphic Center. 

(By Sangam Khanna, director for Komori at Insight Communications)


Kunal Enterprise

Superior service matters

It doesn’t matter whether you are buying the kit from a direct manufacturer or a dealer. Whoever provides a better quality of service is superior.

What should the buyer look for?

In today’s world of rapidly changing technology, a buyer must look for return on investment in two to three years. The investments should be flexible enough to match the changing market scenarios in terms of applications. In addition, the buyer must invest some capital in innovations.

Finance Offers

Though we do not  offer finance directly, we do recommend financing companies like EFL and Intec Capital, for financing the buy. However, it is recommended that the buyer chooses the finance company that offers lowest interest rate.

Flexibility in pricing

As our machines are imported, the flexibility in pricing depends upon currency fluctuations.

(By Ajay Gandhi, managing director, Kunal Enterprise)